As property prices rise, so for many, living spaces become smaller.
Space is one of the few intangible luxuries and one to be greatly prized. Space brings comfort and opportunities whilst the lack of space restricts comfort and can limit enjoyment of one's home.
That said, a friend has the most delightful flat in the centre of Florence which is so compact that every inch has to be considered and used with care if it is to be enjoyed. To this end, it is perfect in every detail and can be lived in and enjoyed as much as places twice the size. To achieve this, however, my friend has to be very disciplined and tidy.
So, for those fortunate enough to have space, there are three rooms that are essential for the smooth running of a family home. They are the utility room, pantry and boot room. I could add a fourth - the scullery - but with modern dishwashers this can hardly be thought of as a necessity.
The utility room doubles as the laundry room and where necessary, as a boot room as well. The utility room is part of the engine of a well ordered house. It may contain an additional freezer or fridge, as well as all of the paraphernalia for laundry. As well as these functions, space could be made for a large Belfast sink and a worktop for both flower arranging and cleaning purposes. The utility room should be well thought out with plenty of space for storage of all of the gadgets, tools, vases and supplies for the efficient running of the house.
In our own utility room we have included a drying cabinet for drying clothes during the wet days of the year - of which there are many. This sits alongside the washing machine which in turn sits alongside the airing cupboard.
The boot room can be part of the utility room and in many houses this is the case. A separate room, however, is ideal as there are always a multitude of shoes, boots, coats, umbrellas and walking sticks. Where possible, a bench to sit on makes the room more agreeable. This room should be warm to air coats and shoes and of course makes an ideal place for a dog - especially those of a large variety or those used for retrieving!
In contrast to the utility room and boot room, the pantry should be cool and clean and maintained as such. Ideally it would be next to the kitchen and if possible north facing which will assist in keeping it naturally cool. There is also no need for daylight in the pantry as many provisions benefit from both cool and dark conditions. Shelving can be simple yet elegant - evenly spaced on timber brackets or, if preferred, adjustable. I prefer the former as from experience, shelves, once established, are seldom if ever adjusted.
Incorporating a cold shelf into the pantry - usually of honed slate - is a lovely touch as many foods and prepared dishes will keep perfectly without the need to be kept in a refrigerator.
Today there is a company that specialises in such spaces - Plain English Design - having recognised the need for areas that provide comfort to any well ordered house.